Featured MS Student: Rorie Anders
Why did you choose the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota?
I chose the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota to pursue a master of science in scientific and technical communication. My academic background is actually in psychology and social work which was a big switch in career paths when I stepped into the field of technical communication. But I absolutely fell in love with my role as a technical writer & illustrator and knew early on that I wanted to enhance my professional proficiency to really excel in that role.
For me, the University of Minnesota’s MS-STC graduate program offered a diverse curriculum that matched my interests and has the added perk of offering experiential learning opportunities. I was also drawn to the opportunity to connect with the Technical Communication Advisory Board (TCAB) as a means of networking and mentoring – two opportunities I was actively seeking out for my own professional development. Finally, I loved how the MS-STC program was all online. While searching for programs, it was especially important that I could still work full-time while continuing my education.
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa – I was born in Seoul, South Korea
Where did you previously attend school? What is your degree in?
I obtained a master of social work (MSW) degree at the University of Minnesota in 2018 and obtained a bachelor of arts degree from St. Olaf College where I majored in psychology with a concentration in family studies.
What are the most important things you've learned from this program?
As someone who has always loved art and being creative, I had a general idea about what looked good visually or how to write persuasively. It was not until this program that I actually learned about the fundamental principles and theories behind those writing and design decisions that can truly make or break the success of communication. By learning more about the “why” behind a design or composition, I feel more confident in executing my own decisions or approaches to a project.
A big lesson learned is that you are not your audience. What you might find aesthetically pleasing or easy to access is not always going to be the same experience for another. There are so many deliberate decisions and approaches used to effectively communicate or convey information and make that content accessible for multiple audiences.
What has been your favorite WRIT course?
My favorite course was WRIT 5112: Information Design: Theory and Practice, which was taught by Professor Daniel Card. I learned a lot about the interplay of verbal, visual, and multimedia content as a means of evoking meaning and improving user comprehension. This course also provided me with a lot of the design principles (layout, color, use of white space) I use on a daily basis at my current place of work.
Would you tell us about a project or course that was particularly meaningful to your professional development?
Within WRIT 4562 – International Professional Communication, all UMN students acted as project managers of teams of students at the University of Trieste. This provided some amazing insights into cross-cultural collaboration to develop deliverables for international or multicultural audiences. As someone with minimal experience in project management, this was a great way to get my foot in the door and hone those skills. A lot of the skills and strategies I learned from that course have encouraged me to seek out more leadership positions at my current place of work.
What are your career goals?
Currently, I am a technical writer & illustrator at Legrand AV in Eden Prairie, MN, developing instruction manuals for SANUS and Echogear brand audiovisual products. At this time, I aim to make my way to senior technical writer and take on more project management roles within our technical publications department.
What advice would you give to someone considering pursuing their MS/certificate with the Department of Writing Studies?
Take a look at the required and elective courses the University of Minnesota offers for the MS or certification – these can provide you with a great sneak-peek into topics covered and could help you decide if this program is the right fit for you. Going back to school is a big commitment – so I think it is really important you take into consideration your desired career path and what options and opportunities will point you in the right direction.
What are your interests / hobbies outside of academia?
Outside of school, I spend a lot of my free time reading, bullet journaling, drawing, and most recently I fell in love with boxing. I also love to learn, so I am always finding new tutorials online to expand my horizons in graphic design and illustration.
I am also an active member of the Professional Association for Computer Training (PACT) and serve as the vice communications chair where I help promote our social media presence as an organization geared to instructional designers, technologists, and digital learning leaders.